Thu, Dec 09, 2010 - Page 10 News List

Microsoft plans to boost browser privacy

Reuters, SEATTLE

Microsoft Corp plans to give users of its new Internet browser the ability to stop certain sites from gathering information from users as the company looks to head off federal online privacy legislation.

The opt-in feature, called “tracking protection,” is based on technology developed for Microsoft’s current browser. It was downplayed as the world’s largest software company tried to balance consumers’ demands for privacy with advertisers’ desire to gather data about users.

Microsoft said the technology was based on InPrivate Filtering, a little-used feature in Internet Explorer 8 that allowed certain sites to be blocked, but had to be switched on each time a new browser session was launched.

There is growing concern over Web sites and advertisers using technology to track sites on the Internet to build up profiles of users, generally without their knowledge or explicit consent.

Last week the US Federal Trade Commission backed creation of a “do not track” option that would limit advertisers’ ability to collect consumers’ data online.

Advertisers generally oppose the idea, and several members of the Republican party, which will control the US House of Representatives next year, have criticized legislation as a potential drag on Internet commerce.

Microsoft is trying to satisfy the millions of users of the world’s most popular browser while ratcheting up revenue from advertisers as it tries to catch up with Internet leader Google Inc.

The new feature will be included in Internet Explorer 9, the latest version of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser, expected to be released some time next year. Microsoft’s browser has about 60 percent market share.

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